This WE believe

gary - Irasburg, Vermont
Entered on January 29, 2009
Age Group: 50 - 65

This I believe is better expressed as this WE believe – what I believe is the collective expression of the beliefs of many people.

My earliest experiences confirm this.

I believe in adoption because my parents adopted me.

I believe in the natural world because my elderly Scoutmaster taught me the name of a sprig of partridge berry that he held between his fingers.

I believe in baseball because my father knew that a roundhouse curve, thrown across the backyard, was a thing of beauty.

I believe in immigration because my mother still spoke the Norwegian of her parents, and because she believed that no Christmas was complete without Santa Lucia and pickled herring.

Every aspect of my life has been shaped by the beliefs of others.

I believe in tolerance because my high school track team was a coalition of Poles, Latvians, Italians, Puerto Ricans, Blacks, Jews, English, Swedes, Armenians, and one athlete with cerebral palsy and another who was autistic. We believed that through fights, through competition, and through workouts that each of us earned our place on the team.

I believe in freedom because one of my cousins served in Vietnam and his brother believed it was more important to be a conscientious objector. And because the father of both of these boys was a prisoner of war in Germany for two years.

I believe in marriage because my wife believes in giving all that she is to me.

I believe in education, because after thirty years of teaching, the students have helped me understand that in every classroom there are twenty-five teachers.

I do not believe alone – I do not believe at all, except that others have believed before me.

The Mission Mountains in Montana are my spiritual memory because my son took me to a hidden lake to fish for cutthroat trout. And he, like a high priest of fishing, said, “If I cast this fly a hundred times, one cast will be perfect, and I will catch a fish.”

I believe in beaches because my father took me to fish from lonely jetties where we stood side by side in a space enclosed by sand and sunlight, wind and water. And because a beach is where my daughter found shelter for her troubled soul.

I believe in rebirth as I watch my wife nurture her garden of perennial flowers back to life.

I believe in community because in my small town a funeral is a celebration of a life well lived.

The world beyond my home adds to the montage of beliefs.

I believe in being humble because others pray for grace and compassion and hope better than I do.

I believe in vicarious experiences because I, like Lance Armstrong, have “danced on the pedals” through the mountains of the Pyrenees.

I believe in giving because when I secretly gave a sandwich to a naked Haitian boy, he gathered his friends around him, and without hesitation, split it ten ways. He believed in his heart that this was the right thing to do, and so now I believe it, too.

I believe in stories because when my eighty-four year old neighbor was run over by a car, I wrote a story about why, and I believe that my story, and his story, are both true.

Is this photo album, this scrapbook of beliefs, ever filled?

Today I believe more deeply in art because this morning my wife finished a collage of her trip to China, and in the center of it is a ceremonial vessel, a symbol that is centuries old.

I believe in the bond between a rider and her horse because today my daughter and her horse cleared a four-foot jump for the first time.

Does living in the present allow me to keenly observe the beliefs of others and see them as truths?

Do I believe in today as an entity unto itself because before my best friend died, he made a T-shirt that said, “Got no time to hang around” on one side, and “I ain’t waitin’” on the other side, and that’s the way he lived all his todays?